Happy Hour in Hell
I’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going.
My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me - I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.
She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld - Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.
But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pandemonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he can’t be killed?
So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?
So just pour me that damn drink, will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.
HAPPY HOUR IN HELL picks up right where the events left off in THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN. This somewhat surprised me since when the series was first announced I remember reading that Williams planned to make the novels only loosely connected so that they could be read in any order. I suppose you could still do that, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Anyway! The book opens with Bobby Dollar entering Hell to search for his demon girlfriend Casimira. Yeah, that's right. An angel with a demon girlfriend. The good/evil relationship dynamic has been done to death in urban fantasy and I admit I was somewhat disappointed to see Williams going for this trope. Here's to hoping he has some surprises lined up regarding it.
HAPPY HOUR IN HELL also has some pacing issues when compared to THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN. The first half of the book has a great pace and easily kept me turning the pages. The second half not so much. I can handle a hundred or so pages of world building in my epic fantasies, but the same type of thing feels jarring when it's an urban fantasy novel. Of course if you've read any of Tad Williams' work prior to the Bobby Dollar series then you probably weren't surprised to hear that he gets a little, ah, descriptive in this book. The difference between the exposition in this book and, say, his Otherland series is that HAPPY HOUR IN HELL is way shorter. Using a hundred and fifty pages to set up a world (in this case, Hell) in a novel that's fifteen hundred pages, well, that doesn't seem like much. When your book is only four hundred pages it's too much.
That isn't to say that HAPPY HOUR IN HELL is a bad book - it's still good. It's just not as good as THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN was.
- The Dirty Streets of Heaven
- Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
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